How to Begin Studying Magic
The art and study of magic is a vast study that can take years, and I get many questions about how people should go about studying this topic. It can be daunting and I understand why people ask this question. In my observation and experience, the best place to begin studying is with the four elements of Air, Fire, Water and Earth.
Because everything in the Universe is composed of the four elements, this study is literally part of everything else you will study in magic. Thus, to start at the beginning, start with the element Air. Air is a safe element to start studying because you can do very little to yourself or others with air. The most you may do is make yourself "spacy" or silly for a while, but Air dissipates quickly so you'll soon recover. For instance, we often start beginner magical practitioners with cloud-moving and weather work. Clouds, being of the Air element, are easy to move with intention and not likely to get anyone in trouble.
Learning how to handle the Air element also helps you develop the skills you will need to handle the more advanced elements of Fire, Water, and Earth. Here is a brief summary of what each of the elements corresponds to:
Seeing, breathing, speaking, hearing, planning, thinking, believing, memorizing, communicating, learning, teaching, information, ideas, wisdom, understanding, worry, sensation, awareness, opinions, data, memory, mind.
Energy, power, will, desire, anger, pain, motivation, radiance, passion, initiative, aggression, limitation, endeavor, activity, creative, willingness, urge, inspired, excitable, courage, bravado, compulsion, fanaticism, frustration, resentment, rage, freedom.
Emotions, feelings, intuition, compassion, empathy, sympathy, knowing, devotion, quest, aspiration, intention, appreciation, integrity, harmony, beauty, balance, serenity, fluidity, grief, apathy, joy, love.
Strength, money, foundation, endurance, structure, mundane world, serenity of beingness, solidity, boundaries, permanence, land, commerce, products, confidence, loyalty, persistence, stubbornness, fortress, security, anchor, barter, substance, body, base, possessions.
At first, you will want to learn to handle each of these elements with your bare hands, in what we call direct handling. For instance, if you wanted to handle the Air element directly, you could increase or decrease the balance of Air in your body. The simplest way to do that would be to wear white clothing. White is one of the Air element colors, and tends to increase your mental capacity. Other ways of handling Air include pulling in white energy through your hands or "breathing" in white energy.
Once you have become proficient at handling the four elements directly you can move on to using magical tools. Since magical tools, such as the wand, athame, chalice and plate, are extensions of the basic four elements and your own energies, they should be studied and handled only after you develop a working knowledge and understanding of the four elements themselves. The same is true of the more advanced topics of divination, tarot and spellwork, which are directly related to your understanding of the elements.
Photo credit: More old books